Book Review: In Search Of Duncan Ferguson

In Search of Duncan Ferguson by Alan Pattullo

I wasn’t expecting to read a book about footballing legend (or is it myth?) Duncan Ferguson and actually get the feeling I was reading about a determined sleuth taking up a cold case and hunting for a missing person.

Yet that’s the vibe I got from this paperback.

Author Alan Pattullo is dogged and methodical as he leaves no stone unturned when finding out about all the aspects that shaped ‘Big Dunc’s’ career and life.

Former pals, teammates, managers, employers and even a sheriff and a few former Barlinnie workers are tracked down to give insight.

Pattullo, you sense, gave much of his life (in that period) to his illusive subject. He treads the line of bias well, never straying into love nor hatred of the tall striker. Having like Alan watched Ferguson’s career from afar for the duration, I know I’d have been in awe of the character and that would’ve ruined any prospective book I’d have written about him.

There’s two constant narratives that runs throughout and they are… Self destruct and failure to reach full potential.

Being great or fantastic ‘on his day’ is a quote that various footballing figures mention consistently. While Ferguson’s charge sheet on and off the pitch is there for everyone to see.

I feel we could have heard a bit more about the injuries taking a toll too. They unquestionably hampered Duncan’s career and are mentioned in the book, but the man himself has stated it was a huge factor that stalled his footballing life. Now he did mention that long after Alan completed the book, so all in all it’s maybe Ferguson’s own fault for it not making as big an impact on the pages as he never consented in giving his views to the writer.

Growing up in Glasgow in the 1990s, I of course remember the famous head-butt that would lead to Ferguson serving time behind bars. It was a long drawn out process but Pattullo excellently covers it here. I particular like that the victim of the piece Jock McStay gets a chance to tell us his side of the drama, even at the time you felt he was seriously overlooked and somewhat shunted by Scottish football.

Does this book miss Duncan Ferguson’s voice? I actually don’t think it does.

I think Alan Pattullo’s account is accurate and well balanced. Ferguson’s lack of involvement actually gives the pages more intrigue and you understand even more that you can watch a footballer throughout his entire career and gleam very little about the man under the strip!

Going back to the missing person analogy; the gallus gumshoe seems to find the skeleton early on, then forensically adds the flesh and features on but in the end never truly find out the person’s true feelings and personality.

The book essentially allows the reader to reflect on the career of the cult-like Scottish striker and come up with their own conclusions.

A fascinating read!

In Search of Duncan Ferguson is available at Waterstones.

A Dembele Loan Deal Could Bring Man United Closer To Premier League Title

Manchester United have been continually linked with French international wide-man Ousmane Dembele in recent transfer windows.

Football365 have once again reported that United are interested in the international winger this January.

I think if the Old Trafford club can thrash out a loan deal, with an option to buy, then they could be in a better position to fight of this season’s Premier League title.

After a slow start to the current campaign, United have been in great from since November and are now leading the title race (Although rivals Manchester City have a game in hand).

United’s attacking options have been bolstered with the addition of an experienced hitman in Edinson Cavani, to compete with Anthony Martial for the main striker’s role. Marcus Rashford seems to have nailed down that left wing spot, while maestro Bruno Fernandes is pulling the strings as the club’s number ten.

There seems to be a bit more concern with the right side of attack.

Paul Pogba can perform well in there but he’s more naturally suited coming from deeper midfield positions rather than pinning back opposition full-backs.

Personally, I believe Mason Greenwood is better as a central striker and often looks a tad bit lost when asked to fill in on the right flank. Welshman Daniel James doesn’t offer enough consistently to make that position his own.

It seems like Jesse Lingard’s time is up as a Red Devil and I don’t think new recruit, eighteen year old, Amad Diallo will be used a huge amount this term.

So all in all, I can see why some Man United fans and boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would possibly want to add another winger to the squad.

In Dembele, they’d be getting a player with undoubted pedigree.

Along with Pogba, he helped France to their World Cup triumph in 2018. His electrifying performances for Borussia Dortmund in 2016-17 convinced Barcelona to pay out around £135m for him (Source BBC Sport) as they saw him as an ideal replacement for the departed Neymar.

Dembele can burn up pace on either wing and also possesses the skills to beat defenders. He has the ability to get into dangerous positions and put away chances. Even as he’s struggled to keep down a place at Barca, sometimes due to injury, he’s still scored twenty-five times in ninety-three outings.

The ever emerging Ansu Fati is only going to make things harder for Dembele at Camp Nou, as he searches for more starts.

France will be gunning for the Euros in the summer and Les Bleus boss Didier Deschamps has stated that he knows just what Dembele can do but he needs to regain his full fitness:

“We must give him time. I know what he is capable of. He had physical problems, but now it is up to him to find his full potential.”

Didier Deschamps Via Football-Espana.com

A change of scenery could be the making of Ousmane as it could provide him with a platform to show that he can be a world class talent.

If Ousmane Dembele were to do that at Old Trafford, then he would enhance Manchester United’s frontline and also there chances of claiming major silverware again!

Lampard Needs Win Over Foxes, Could Be A Brendan Rodgers Chelsea Audition

No one will know just how ruthless Roman Abramovich can be when Chelsea’s managers struggle to get positive results as much as current incumbent Frank Lampard.

Given Chelsea’s recent run of form and their seventh position in the Premier League, the Blues boss must be looking over his should with a wee bit of dread in his occupying his mind.

Chelsea spent big in the summer and haven’t really seen a great return for their money, although time is still their for these new recruits to make their mark at Stamford Bridge but that time might not be extended to club legend Lampard.

The Blues boss probably didn’t like hearing Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl criticising how he has used major summer signing Timo Werner:

 ‘I know Timo very well and I have seen him in situations where he was not good.

‘Most of the time when I have seen this is because of the reason that the game doesn’t fit to him. The team didn’t play in the way he can bring his best on the pitch, I think.’

Hasenhuttl via Daily Mail

The London giants have so far really struggled against fellow top eight sides. Tonight they come up against Leicester City (BBC Match Preview) and the Foxes have once again performed fantastically well and find themselves in third spot.

It might actually be seen as a must win game for Lampard, if they lose they will fall nine points behind their opponents.

Chelsea have a superb squad full of talented players and a great crop of youngsters.

In the opposition dugout will be Brendan Rodgers, a man that might be seen as an ideal replacement if Abramovich decides to remove Frank from his position as manager of Chelsea.

At Leicester City, Brendan Rodgers has consistently got every ounce from his team. They narrowly missed out on the Champions League places last term and are once again flying high in the league during this campaign.

Before going to the East Midlands, Rodgers also enjoyed a trophy laden spell at Celtic in the Scottish Premiership and was probably the man that got Liverpool believing that they could start challenging for major honours again.

Rodgers has belief in talent young players and isn’t scared of playing them if he feels they are ready to implement his style on the pitch. His teams play with intensity and with an attacking flair, those are qualities that we know Chelsea owner Abramovich looks for in his ideal candidates for the managerial hot-seat at Stamford Bridge.

If Leicester City were to out play and beat Chelsea tonight it might persuade the Blues hierarchy that it’s time to change the management time once again. It might also show them that their new gaffer could be their former youth coach, Rodgers, and not world renowned free agents Massimiliano Allegri or Thomas Tuchel.

For Lampard, he needs to get any of these rumours out of his head. He needs to figure out his best team and get the most out of them, starting tonight!

Beat the Foxes at King Power Stadium and that could be the boost that kickstarts The Blues season.

Look at current league leaders Manchester United, they were looking dead and buried before November.

A winning run starting tonight could have Chelsea clambering up the Premier League table, the confidence to beat the high performing opponents and it could also see them set up to challenge for the Champions League title.

It really does feel like a defining moment for Frank Lampard and his spell as Chelsea boss. If it goes the wrong way, then it could also define Brendan Rodgers future too.

It should be a classic match!

Book Review: Danish Dynamite

Danish Dynamite by Rob Smyth, Lars Eriksen and Luke Gibbons.

Books can be a wonderful tool to take you back in time and help you learn about an era that you didn’t really know existed.

As a kid born in the eighties, I became interested in football domestically in 1989. In 1990 I watched my first World Cup and my love for the game became everlasting.

So I remember when football was clean of the internet; where you only discovered certain players, styles and countries on a two or four year cycle via European Championships and World Cups. You no longer get that feeling of discovery within the beautiful game… Or so I thought.

This book took me back to the 1980s and had me learning about a swashbuckling team I had only vaguely heard about before I read ‘Danish Dynamite’.

I had always loved the Danish kits, was a huge fan of Brian Laudrup growing up and loved the story of the Danish players coming away from their beach holidays to win the Euros in 1992. But I hadn’t known what went before them.

The authors of this book detailed Denmark’s footballing history before the 80s. I hadn’t realised that the Danes remained fiercely loyal to the amatuer side of football for so long and were for a significant time whipping boys of international qualifying groups.

The way the book is written is reminiscent of the playing style of the Danish team that they were writing about. At parts it’s a slow but accurate patient build up. That will then quickly burst into life with bombastic language to describe glorious games like Denmark’s 6-1 win over Uruguay in the 86′ World Cup or a vintage goal scored by a stunning world class player like Preben Elkjaer.

I particularly loved how they describe the roles of midfielders Klaus Berggreen and Jens Jørn Bertelsen:

‘Tactically astute midfielders who selflessly carried water so that the likes of Elkjaer and Laudrup could walk on it.’

Every player of that era seems to get his rightful place within the book and boss Sepp Piontek’s influence on them is reinforced throughout. It also describes how the squad and the manager changed the Dnaish footballing culture forever and how it captured the hearts of it’s fanatical support.

This really is a very long love note to a bygone era and a football team that really caught the imagination. It even managed to make me fall in love with that Danish Dynamite team thirty odd years later!

As the book says, we love to look back and remember the almost men and the ones that caught our attention through skill and passion. That particular Denmark team only knew one way to play football, by entertaining and going all out. That would prove to be their downfall but it’s why the story still resonates and why they’re such a great choice as subjects for this wonderfully written book.

They say don’t buy a book based on the cover but a big part of my purchase was based on the splendid cover that spells out Denmark without the use of letters. It’s looks splendid on your bookcase but the detail inside has you clambering to read chapter after chapter.

Danish Dynamite is available online at Waterstones.

(Note on the picture – I was extremely fortunate to possess the ideal blanket that just goes ideally with the front cover of the book!)

Brazilian Duo Alisson & Fabinho Currently Carrying Liverpool’s Title Hopes

Much has been made of Liverpool’s fantastic front three in recent years. Yet The Reds defence was just as significant as they claimed their first Premier League title last term.

This campaign hasn’t gone just as swimmingly for the front three and that has meant that more pressure has been shifted onto the team’s backline.

Injuries to centre-backs Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez plus the sale of Dejan Lovren in the summer has impacted on their chances of doing well in that area.

With Joel Matip also succumbing to injury, Liverpool’s defence as of late has been very makeshift. Having two regular central midfielders (Fabinho and Jordan Henderson) in the heart of their defence for their huge clash with fellow title challengers Manchester United was far from ideal.

Liverpool managed to hold out and grab a 0-0 draw (BBC Match Report) with the current league leaders and that might actually be seen as a confidence booster as it keeps them in the hunt as they wait for more reinforcements to come back and help out the rest of the squad.

The Reds have two Brazilians to thank for keeping that important clean-sheet today and that’s Fabinho and goalkeeper Alisson.

Fabinho has played in central defence a few times already in his career but he’s mainly seen as a holding midfielder via coming onto the scene as a full-back.

The vital qualities that he brings to the heart of the defence is composure and intelligence (in my opinion).

He’s a player that gets rarely flustered. The twenty-seven year old doesn’t rush into challenges and he always seems to pick up great positions to snuff out chances.

At centre-back Fabinho still sees plenty of the ball and against Man United he made 76 passes, completing 91% of them!

The midfielder turned centre-back also won both of his key tackles that he had to make at Anfield. Plus he is decent when the ball is in the air also.

Last month his manager, Jurgen Klopp, praised Fabinho for his inteliengence and being an organiser at the back:

 “Fab is, I wouldn’t even say a defensive-orientated player, he’s an organisation-orientated player. He is very strategical.

“I don’t know what he played in his youth in Brazil, by the way, I didn’t ask but for Monaco he played quite frequently at right-back and for the national team he played right-back. Then he played one of a double six.

“I’m not sure if he played centre-half before, probably yes. He just is able to do that, you can see that in different situations that his challenging skills are just outstanding, defensively on top of that.”

Via Liverpoolfc.com

Any trouble that Fabinho couldn’t sweep up, well that’s when compatriot Alisson stepped up to show his worth.

The Brazilian number one is for me the best keeper in the Premier League and I think that he proved that fact today during the second half against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.

He got gown well to divert a Bruno Fernandes effort away from his goal-line, then he blocked Paul Pogba from pointblank range and rushed out at a corner to prevent Marcus Rashford getting a solid shot away.

A shot-stopper like Alisson is worth his weight in gold and that’s why Liverpool won big trophies since he arrived in Merseyside. The goalie along with Fabinho and Henderson were the ones that stopped Man United moving six points clear at the top.

Jurgen Klopp will be desperate to get a few faces back from the treatment table and he’ll also be hoping that his front three can find their scintillating best form once again.

If those two things can happen and Liverpool can charge towards a second title in a row, then they’ll definitely have to thank Brazilian duo Alisson and Fabinho for being consistently brilliant and keeping them in the hunt during what many might see as Liverpool’s lean spell this season.

Book Review – Ronaldo! King Of The World

Ronaldo! King Of The World by Wensley Clarkson

This book reminds me why I like autobiographies compared to a writer analysing a subject.

If you want to know more about Ronaldo’s early years and relive his struggles from the World Cup 1998 then this could be for you.

Getting into the book I became instantly aware that the author (Wensley Clarkson) seemed to enjoy the gossip and the salacious side of a young Ronaldo. He likes to get into the murky side of the football industry, which can be quite telling once you realise Ronaldo was essential sold off to two agents as a young teen. Wensley also seems to enjoy learning more about the Brazilian forward’s love life going from a nervous youngster into a top professional footballer who could pull models. I quickly googled the author and wasn’t surprised to see he mainly focuses on true crime stories.

It is interesting to see how Ronaldo was so dependent on his mother even after he became a worldwide phenomenon, although it’s not surprising as he had to grow up so quickly and without proper guidance in so many ways.

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy learning more about my footballing hero, I did, but at times you want confirmation from the man himself. I also felt that Mr Clarkson glossed over a few footballing highlights. The year at Barcelona all seems to be doom and gloom without focussing too much on the goal laden part of it. While Ronaldo’s sensational UEFA Cup final performance against Lazio for Inter was condensed down to one sentence.

The big focus and most of the book builds towards the summer of 98′ in France. It does take you back to that time and you start to remember just how big Ronaldo was at that time and then remember he was just twenty-one!

The redemption story of 2002 is covered but it’s rushed compared to 1998 and that didn’t really sit well with me.

It leaves you wanting Ronaldo to bring out an extensive autobiography but it’s worth a read for anyone who wants to relive Brazil’s failure at France 98′ and get a feeling of just how much pressure Ronaldo was under during that period.

The Dutch International Defender That Could Boost Spurs Or Liverpool Title Hopes

Copyright – Ligue.com

Both Tottenham Hotspur and current Premier League champions Liverpool will be hopeful that they can add silverware to their trophy cabinets this season, as they’re both still well placed in numerous competitions.

Yet when you look at both of the side’s squads, they could probably do with another capable centre-half.

Liverpool have clearly being missing the influence that comes with having Dutch international captain Virgil van Dijk in their backline as he has been missing for a fair amount of this campaign due to an ACL injury. It was initially feared that the defender would miss the rest of the season (Source Talksport) but he could possibly return ahead of schedule.

As well as having Van Dijk, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp will know that fellow centre-backs Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are also pretty injury prone (Gomez is also currently out and Matip has missed recent fixtures too).

In Liverpool’s last league outing (a loss to Southampton) they started with midfielders Fabinho and Jordan Henderson as their defensive duo.

At Tottenham Hotspur, they have an experienced centre-back in Toby Alderweireld but the question this season has been who to play beside the Belgian?

I don’t believe Jose Mourinho fully trusts Colombian international Davinson Sanchez, who does seem to have a few mistakes in him. Joe Rodon arrived in the last transfer window from Swansea City but he has only made one Premier League appearance since is arrival. I don’t think that means the end for Rodon, just that Jose believes he might not be ready for the English top flight.

Englishman Eric Dier has dropped in from midfield to play as Alderweireld’s partner at the back in fifteen league games so far this season. The England international started his career as a centre-back and hasn’t looked out of place there but you do wonder if Mourinho would like to add another defensive face to strengthen up numbers as Spurs head into the second half of the season.

A name that might be on both Liverpool and Tottenham’s radar could be Lille OSC defender Sven Botman.

The twenty-year old joined the Ligue 1 club back in the summer and he has impressed with his displays in heart of their defence.

The towering centre-half commands his penalty area whenever the ball enters via crosses. His aerial ability has really caught the eye. On average he wins around 3.7 aerial battles per league game with Lille (Via Whoscored).

He also seems to take him time in making the perfect challenge. The young defender isn’t blessed with electric pace but his intelligence and his diligence makes up for that as he picks his moment to make the tackle.

Sven also uses his strength well in bullying opponents while on the ball and taking it off of them too.

The Dutch player is also composed when in possession and he has a passing success rate above 86% during his first nineteen league games in France.

He can play on the left side of the defence which might suit the likes of Alderweireld and Van Dijk.

Their experience would also allow Botman the chance to shine. Current Lille boss Christophe Galtier praised Sven and how he has been able to listen to and learn from experienced partner Jose Fonte:

“The fact that he has an experienced player alongside him in José Fonte allows him to be led, guided and ensures he is in the right positions, and he is very receptive to the little corrections we make to his game during the week in training,” 

Via Ligue1.com

Quite a few of Jose Mourinho’s backroom staff used to ply their trade at Lille, so they’ll have the contacts to find out more about the player. While Botman’s performances in France has seen him win a call-up into the Netherlands senior squad, so Georginio Wijnaldum will have first hand insight into the youngster.

Sven Botman does seem to be a player that can come in now and help out either Liverpool or Spurs as they head into vital times within their seasons, especially if more injuries crop up. But he’s also one for the future and then you have to remember the current financial strain Lille might be under.

The Ligue 1 side were recently sold due to financial issues (Via Get French Football News) resulting from a collapse in the TV deal and with Covid-19. That could mean that the new owners might decided to cash in on a few players to put the club on a better financial footing.

I am guessing it would definitely be worth the time of Liverpool and Tottenham’s scouting departments to run the rule over the young defender and ask if a deal can be done?

Book Review: Basta – My Life My Truth (Marco van Basten)

I first became interested football back in 1990 and a big part of that was down to my older brother.

In those days he was a huge fan of Marco van Basten, he had a Holland strip and we would both end up getting AC Milan jerseys. I, too, was instantly drawn to Van Basten.

My brother had a VHS tape of the top Serie A goals of 1991-92 and Marco featured heavily. Then I remember the best player just seemed to disappear and retire in 1995 after spending two years on the sidelines due to an ankle injury.

So I was eager to purchase his autobiography, twenty-five years after his retirement from playing and learn more from one of my first footballing idols.

First off, I really did enjoy Basta. It took me just three days to get it all done. You do come away from it feeling you now knowing a great deal more about the man and not just the myth of San Marco.

Most of the chapters are pretty short, almost like polaroids into the key moments of Van Basten’s life. I enjoy that style as it doesn’t get to bogged down in anything boring or unexciting. Marco is extremely honest about everything that has gone on during his first fifty years – telling us about his family, financial troubles and his life after playing.

But the key elements (for me) are his playing career, his injuries and his relationship with fellow Dutch legend Johan Cruyff.

He writes beautifully about his time on the turf, that clearly was when he felt at his best. There’s a chapter dedicated to what you feel is his favourite goal (not that volley at Euro 88).

It’s actually an overhead kick he scored against Den Bosch for Ajax. He tells us about what inspired that goal and how participating in other sports made it become an instinctive part of his game. He then analytically tells us what actually happened, all about his technique and what he was feeling as the ball hanged in the air waiting for him to connect with it from that unique starting point.

You get the feeling Marco really loved that goalscoring feeling and lived to be a striker. I doubt he has forgotten any goal he has scored, even as a youth!

When the world’s best player’s career is cut short at just twenty-eight years of age, then you can understand why that would devastate that him. Marco actually first injured his ankle at twenty-two, he was lucky to reach the heights he did. An ankle ligament injury wouldn’t probably wouldn’t have ended his career had he been playing today. A few botched medical procedures just curtailed him and that crippled him both mentally and physically. You can tell he was terribly angry, upset and bitter about what happened. Later on in the book he tries to look at the bright side, having still achieved so much, but you can always tell that the anger and bitterness isn’t too far away.

His detailing of his arrival in Milan and how different it was from the Dutch way of life is very interesting. How it was so much more professional and passionate in Italy. It takes you back to a time when Serie A really was the footballing pinnacle for every player.

Marco is always very loyal to his teammates. He doesn’t slate any teammate or even an opponent in this book. He is extremely complimentary, especially when it came to his teammates at AC Milan.

The same can’t be said when talking about coaches he had worked under. They were all fairly or very successful but he is quite dismissive of most of them. Arrigo Sacchi, Aad de Mos and Rinus Michel all come under fire as Marco believes it was always more about the players than down to the managers and tactics. He is also very honest about bringing some of these men down.

Fabio Capello comes away pretty unscathed but that might be down to spending less time playing under the Italian before his career ending injury.

Marco as the manager always seemed to self sabotage himself due to a fear of failure and self-doubt. He is still dismissive about the role and you feel better knowing that he won’t be a manager again (it’s too much for his mental health). But interestingly he did also seem to always have an excuse ready for a bad result as if to stop us judging him completely in that role.

The one man that he clearly adored and cherished working under was Cruyff. Throughout the book he tells us of always having Johan’s ear and how that was his mentor. They may have had a few disagreements but ultimately Johan Cruyff was and is Van Basten’s hero. When first coming back from ankle surgery, it was with Cruyff that he did his one on one training and that was just due to friendship! One chapter is titled Lord Jesus Cruyff.

The book has plenty of contractions, I think because Marco still hasn’t fully come to terms with what happened to him. For example, he tells us that he was happy for Ruud Gullit to become the superstar in Milan and with the Dutch National side as that took away any attention from him. Later also mentions that he doesn’t want people to forget his achievements or about him.

Marco van Basten is a very complex person. He liked confrontation, had a decent sized ego and always seems in search of finding himself. But I really enjoyed his book and getting to know how he ticks. For me, an autobiography should give you everything of a person – warts and all. You get that here and by the end my admiration for the man only grew.

Basta: My Life My Truth by Marco Van Basten is available at Waterstones.

What Manchester United Would Be Getting If They Sign Moises Caicedo

Manchester United have been heavily linked with a deal to bring in Ecuadorian wonderkid Moises Caicedo (Source Daily Record).

Depending on who you listen to; a deal is on verge of being sealed or it’s still far from being completed.

But why would United be interested in the youngster and what would they be getting if they manage to get his signature on a contract?

Well they’re interested in the midfielder because he is one of South America’s top young prospects, having helped his side Independiente del Valle to the U20 Copa Libertadores title and he’s already made a name for himself at senior level making his debut for the Ecuadorian national side back in October.

United have always scoured the globe looking for the next big thing and Moises looks like he’d fit that particular bill.

They would be getting a very accomplished teenager who has the ability to dictate play from the engine-room.

Even at his young age, Caicedo isn’t scared to get on the ball and make the game tick with his passes in midfield. He will often go back to his defence and take the ball off of the backline in deep positions and keep the flow going at a pace of his choosing. A bit like Chelsea’s Billy Gilmour.

I think Moises is more confident in charging forward with and without the ball when compared to Gilmour. He has the energy to be an all out box to box midfielder. That’s helped by his excellent close control when on the ball and his ability to dribble beyond opponents.

Being a catalyst in midfield, especially for someone so young, will always catch the attention of the big clubs in Europe. He always seems composed when he has the ball at his feet, even when surrounded by opposition players.

He is also adept at winning the ball without rushing in. Caicedo knows his strengthens and will often play to them, that includes being dogged in winning the ball back for his team.

The quick step-up onto the international scene hasn’t seemed to faze the teenager either. Grabbing his first goal for his country in a win over Uruguay, showing us he isn’t scared of having pop at goal – which will only become more consistent the older he gets!

A huge positive for Man United or any potential suitor could be the fact that Moises Caicedo has so far relished the challenge whenever he has had to make that next step in his career. That doesn’t mean he’d walk straight into the Red Devils starting eleven. It would probably be better for him to play with the Under-23s at Old Trafford and for him to get used to his surroundings and the style of English football, especially if he were to join during this transfer window. But I’d not be surprised to see him making the match day squad of the senior side before the end of this campaign, if a deal were to happen.

You can also see why a move to Manchester United might appeal to the youngster. They are a global footballing powerhouse and they also had Ecuadorian hero Antonio Valencia within their ranks for a number of years.

Moises Caicedo has already stated his desire to play in one of the world’s bigger leagues:

“My challenge is one day to be in the elite of world football. I have proposed this to myself, my dream is to play in the big leagues,”

Moises Caicedo via Sport Witness

That dream could become a reality if Man United can come to an agreement with Independiente del Valle and bring the talented prospect to the Premier League.

Frank Lampard Should Trust Chelsea Youngsters To Get Him Out Of Trouble

No one will know more than Frank Lampard that a slump can cost a Chelsea manager his job.

After a pretty successful maiden season as The Blues boss, Lampard and his side have started to struggle this term.

After a bright start to the campaign, Chelsea are currently on a run that has seen them win just once in their last six Premier League outings and losing four times! That dismal run has seen Frank’s team fall to eighth in the league table and seven points behind league leaders Liverpool and Manchester United (who also have a game in hand over Chelsea).

On Boxing Day, Chelsea were humbled by city rivals Arsenal who too were experiencing their own issues. Yesterday, Manchester City easily turned over The Blues at Stamford Bridge (BBC Match Report) and the pressure has really started to build for Frank Lampard.

That being said it’s not all doom and gloom for Chelsea and their manager just yet. They should take inspiration on the run Man United have been on since November, that saw them reach joint first place after languishing in the bottom half of the Premier League table.

For Chelsea to go on a similar run, I think Lampard will once again have to trust some of the talented youngsters that he has at his disposal.

Last term, young Scot Billy Gilmour came to the fore and really shone when given a chance.

Wide-man Callum Hudson-Odoi’s talents have been known for a few seasons now. Injury hampered him last year but 2021 could really be a breakout spell for the young England internationalist.

Incidentally both youngsters came off the bench against City yesterday and actually started to take the game to their opponents, which was more than more experienced players had managed up until the arrival of the talented youths.

Younger players have sometimes got less awareness to the pressures of form. They are still keen to prove themselves at elite level and have a hunger to get wins for their team.

New signing Kai Havertz probably needs more minutes if you are going to get the best out of him. He too came on against Man City and made an impression.

It wasn’t by chance, in my opinion, that it was Havertz who provided an assist for Hudson-Odoi’s goal.

The players that made way for the young trio were N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Hakim Ziyech.

They were all sluggish and much of the game seemed to pass them by. Ziyech in particular seemed to not understand that he had to put a shift in for the team both defensively as well as in attack.

I am not saying these players should be dropped from the first team in the long term but a kick up the backside wouldn’t go amiss as they struggle to find form.

Gilmour gives more energy to the team and he isn’t scared to get onto the ball and dictate play.

Hudson-Odoi has that spark that’s needed to give his teammates some creativity to gain a spark that can make things happen. Lampard even said as much after his recent performance against Aston Villa:

“I liked his performance today and I liked the range of his passing which was very evident in the first half. a couple of great cross field ball and some of feet, touches and movement were great.”

Frank Lampard via SI.com

It seems a bit strange that the Chelsea gaffer would then drop the winger for the City game. Callum probably needs more consistent starts to get to his very best!

While I would be happy to see Frank Lampard call upon his young stars more as his team languish in a stale state, I am not advocating a total overhaul and having just kids in the starting eleven. That would be foolish.

Olivier Giroud has already proven himself as being leader in attack, I’d actually look at dropping and resting Timo Werner and having Giroud starting again. I also have to hold my hands up and say that Thiago Silva has impressed me more than I believed he would.

There’s a balanced to be had when sprinkling young, talented players in with older more experienced pros. But for me, Frank Lampard has to trust the likes of Billy Gilmour and Callum Hudson-Odoi as he tries to save his side’s league campaign and possibly his own job!